Michael Prior addresses players during West Coast's practice match against Essendon on August 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

WEST Coast coach Michael Prior has described his comments slamming the AFLW fixture as "unacceptable" and not reflective of the Eagles' position after he questioned why the Eagles were drawn to face reigning premier Narrm in Season 8.

A frustrated Prior on Sunday said the League needed to look at its fixture after pitting his team against the Demons when they had been at opposite ends of the ladder in the previous season, with his comments drawing wide criticism on Monday.

After reflecting on the comments, which were made in a media conference shortly after a 70-point loss at home, Prior said the match would be a learning opportunity for his young team.

"I would like to acknowledge my comments regarding the AFLW fixturing were unacceptable after our game against Narrm," Prior said in a statement.

"It was a disappointing performance and I was frustrated but that does not excuse my comments and they do not reflect the club's position. I take full responsibility.

"Narrm are the benchmark in AFLW and credit to them for the way they played."


Prior asserted on Sunday that it was poor fixturing in a 10-round season to schedule two teams at opposite ends of the ladder to play each other, with West Coast coming off a wooden spoon in Season 6 and a 16th-place finish in Season 7. 

"That's a team that won the Grand Final last year against a team that finished last. With 18 teams in the comp and only 10 games, how we play that team is beyond me," Prior said after the match. 

"That's what you get when you get fixturing like that.

"It’s frustrating … the side that won it is playing the side that came last. I just don't understand that part of it and we need to look at it."


On Monday, the coach said there were positives for the group to take out of the match and it had given the team an indication of the pressure and effort needed to compete at the highest level.

"As one of the youngest lists in the competition, taking on the reigning premier was a challenge our squad will learn from as we aspire to climb the AFLW ladder, and there were positives from many of our exciting developing players like Charlie Thomas and Ella Roberts," he said.

"I can assure West Coast members and supporters that our players, coaches and staff are working incredibly hard behind the scenes to fast-track our growth and drive the elite standards that will take our group to the next level.

"We need to close the gap to the best teams and our first half against the Demons was indicative of the pressure and effort we need to bring against the elite sides.

"Every opportunity to compete against the best teams is an opportunity to learn and get better and that is what we will be aiming to do in our final three matches this season."

Olivia Purcell is tackled by Ella Roberts during the match between West Coast and Melbourne at Mineral Resources Park in round seven, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The Demons were the first Season 7 finalists that the Eagles have played so far this year, having faced Walyalup, Gold Coast, Carlton, Sydney, Yartapuulti and Greater Western Sydney in the opening six rounds, winning only the game against the Power.

They will play two more Season 7 finalists in the final three rounds of the season - top-of-the-table Adelaide and the winless Western Bulldogs.